The NFL has a problem. And no it is not having the Boston and LA market for the Super Bowl this year.
It is the refs.
We can debate how much of an impact a bad call or a no call can make on a game (I tend to think it is huge, others downplay it), but that is not the biggest problem. The issue is that there is a PERCEPTION that the refs are tampering with the game too much.
Is this true? I am not sure. But the perception is out there.
And why not? I mean not just the blown PI call in the Saints/Rams game. But look at all the bad calls in the Pats/Chiefs game. Mahomes gets hit in the shoulder (almost head) area, no call. Brady gets hit in the exact same spot not 10 minutes later, 15 yards and extends a drive. The Chiefs have a blatant offensive PI call going unnoticed to give them a lead, albeit a brief lead. And who can forget the multiple times the refs spend countless minutes under the slo-mo hood determining the most minute of details, breaking the entire flow of the game while adding arguments to the conspiracy theorists.
Football’s reputation is getting tainted, almost to the NBA level, of mettling with games.
So what’s the solution?
Well, I have a few:
Cut the rule book in half. The NFL has BY FAR the largest rule book in all major team sports. Why do we need illegal formation anymore? What is a hold? Illegal motion? Simplify the game.
Let receivers and corners handplay much more. After every pass, both the receiver and corner look towards the refs to see if what happened will stand. It is insane. No one knows what a legal play is anymore, including the refs. Let them play more.
PI is 15 yards, not a spot foul. Let the punishment fit the crime.
Instant replay is done in 10 seconds by a home office. If you can’t tell in 10 seconds, call stands. Get the game flowing!!!!
For OT, each team gets the ball at the 50. Each team has a shot. Make it like college, except not as dumb as starting at the 25.
Make NFL refs full time. People say this job is too hard to do, so let’s at least make this gig full time. This is a multi-billion dollar industry. These refs have a ton of say in the result. Let’s train them for the entire year and not make it a side hustle.
There you go. Will the NFL do any of this? No. But they have to do something, and adding more rules will not fix this image problem.